Thank you for your generosity in welcoming me here today.
Thank you for your overwhelming welcome.
Every time I come here, I know that I'm home.
As you know, this is where it all began for me, where God called me to my calling.
I was only 11 when I heard His voice. Well, when I first recognized His voice.
How much has changed since then.
In fact, how much the world has changed in the mere five decades.
Well, some of you may say that the world hasn't changed much at all.
And of course, you would be referring to America when you say the 'world.'
And that's ok by me. America is our world.
Then the question is, has America changed much in the last few decades or so?
I think by now, you all know what asphyxiation means.
I believe even my five-year old grandson knows what that means now.
Asphyxia or asphyxiation is a condition of deficient supply of oxygen to the body that arises from abnormal breathing.
It can be caused by respiratory diseases, perhaps congenital illnesses, or extrinsic factors such as drug overdose, drowning, or as you know, by choking.
Did know that people died of asphyxiation on the cross?
It causes airway obstruction from blockage from foreign materials, blockage from being in environments where oxygen is not readily accessible, or where sufficient oxygen is present but cannot be adequately breathed because of air contamination.
Well, I'm certainly not a doctor. This is from our trusted source, Wikipedia.
But I think this definition will suffice for us for now.
For a country that touts freedom for all, that includes the phrase, "pursuit of happiness" in our core founding principles, a country that was established upon the foundation of Christian creed...how did we get here?
How is it that America today is crying out, "I cannot breathe"?
Let's think about this phrase, "I cannot breathe."
The very breath that is in us comes from God.
Man received life through God's breath.
It says in Genesis 2:7, Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man's nostrils, and the man became a living person.
Yes, through His breath, we received life.
Every breath we take, then, is His breath, God's breath in us.
For without God's breath, we would simply be no more.
Book of Job tells us, "If God were to take back his spirit and withdraw his breath, all life would cease, and humanity would turn again to dust."
So how did we come to a point where the entire country is crying out, "I cannot breathe!"
Is it because we were born with a congenital disease?
Although we were born wretches, God gave us new life through His Son Jesus Christ.
So if we have Jesus, we should no longer have this congenital condition. The old is gone and we are new creation.
Then, how is it that we cry out, "I cannot breathe"?
Is it something that we did to ourselves like a drug overdose?
Is it a consequence of our sinful behavior that causes us unable to breathe?
Or is it something that's in the air, the environment?
Is it that, though there's sufficient oxygen, we cannot breathe because of the contamination in the air?
I think our answers will differ depending on where we stand in our walk of faith.
For some of us, we may not be able to breathe because we're doing something we shouldn't be doing as Christ followers.
Perhaps we condone or even encourage outrageous sexual conduct, violence, and immorality in our lives by directly participating in it or through our attempt to satisfy our indecent appetite for them.
We intentionally fill our lungs with filth that causes obstruction in our airway.
For some of us, it's the mere fact of living in a contaminated environment.
Even though we try to live a holy life set apart from the worldly things, we cannot breathe because of the environmental contaminants in the air.
It is the extrinsic foreign materials blocking our nostrils and our lungs that is making us difficult to breathe.
It may be that the knees of a stronghold is keeping us down and choking us that we cannot breathe.
We have become too weak to loosen ourselves from the stronghold.
Alas, we are being choked with our hands tied behind our backs because of our lack of power.
As Jesus said, "No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house."
Our house is being plundered because we cannot bind the strong man.
If this is the case, how did we get so weak?
Where is our power?
Where is our authority over the strong man?
Let's dwell a moment on authority. What is authority? Who has it?
Our authority comes from the One who has all authority.
Our power comes from the delegated authority that we received from the One with all authority.
We don't all receive the same amount of authority.
The One with all authority will delegate to us authority and power that is as big as our ministry.
If we're lacking authority and power in our lives, we must look around and see how big our ministry is.
Do we even have a ministry?
As disciples of Christ, how big is our ministry?
In other words, how big is our influence?
For some of us, our ministry right now is ourselves.
We must minister to ourselves. We must disciplines our bodies, minds, and souls to be aligned with God's will.
This may be our biggest struggle right now and we must depend upon God's grace to give us enough authority and power to overcome our worldly selves.
For some of us, our ministry might be a little bit bigger, perhaps it extends to our immediate family members.
Our spouse, our children, maybe even our parents.
If that's the case, we are in a position where we have ourselves under control, not that we would ever be in full control of ourselves, but enough so that we can minister to ourselves and to our immediate family members.
Then for some of us, our ministry extends to our family and some of our friends, maybe our co-workers or our employees.
How are we ministering to them?
Do we have the authority to oversee this ministry?
Which aspect of Christ are we showing them by our actions and reactions? By our words?
There are those in my circle, perhaps in yours too, who oversee a city, a county, or a state, or a nation.
God has given them an authority over many.
Even the ones you may not like, let us be respectful because I can assure you that God delegated His authority unto them.
If we know that God does not make mistakes, let us know that God did not make a mistake in delegating to them the authority they have over certain areas and people.
Whoever we have authority over, God asks us to assess the condition of the people upon whom we have authority over.
How are they? Where are they? Are there any obstruction in their airway that hinders their ability to breathe? How contaminated is the air they breathe, the environment that they live in?
God is asking us to assess America right now. Let's not be mistaken. We are America. Not them, not those people. It is you and I.
What are we suffering from? What is the cause of our asphyxiation?
If we find that the condition is a congenital issue, then the remedy is the salvation message, the Gospel.
We need to lead our ministry to Christ and receive new life. We must be born again.
If we find that it's an obstruction within ourselves due to our sinful behavior, then the remedy lies in sanctification.
Let us be doers of the Word, not just hearers.
Salvation itself does not change our behaviors. We have to be intentional about changing our behaviors.
God grants us new life through salvation. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit begins with salvation.
But our God is a God who gives us the privilege to partner with Him.
His part He will do but we have our part to fulfill.
We work in partnership with God because He desires it that way.
We need to be intentional about changing our behavior in partnership with the Holy Spirit.
This is the sanctification process.
If we find that we don't have the strength to overcome the enemy and the principalities of the air, then we must reassess our ministry.
Our authority and power are as big as our ministry. If we don't have any authority and power, perhaps, we don't have the ministry we think we have.
We have to sincerely reassess ourselves and our influence over others.
If we are to minister to the people around us, God has given us the authority.
Let us seek His power. Perhaps, we've never asked for power and authority. But It is there for us to ask.
If we ask with a pure heart, then God will grant us the power and authority to overcome the strong man and to minister to our people.
Our breath is the very breath of God.
It is our very life.
If we cannot breathe, we will die.
The Psalmist says, "You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust."
If we, Christians, claim to know the truth, then we must know also that, with knowledge comes a responsibility.
This is not the time to point a finger and say "those people."
This is not the time to say, "We are church and we don't want to get our hands dirty in the political quagmire."
This is not the time to think or dare to think, "We are above it."
No, we are America. Asphyxia is all of our problem.
If we, who know Jesus, do nothing, let's be very clear that, we will surely die.
We have God's breath in us.
God put His Holy Spirit in us.
The breath of the Almighty is within us.
It's time for us to rise to the occasion as God's people.
Not just to say that we're Christians but to be and do.
We may not be doctors but we have the power to diagnose, the power to heal, the power to raise the dead. We have the resurrection power in us.
Let's stand together and partner with God to clean up our air of the contaminants and the strongholds.
Let God's breath work through us to bring life to those around us.
This is the time to put away our differences, our false ideas of tolerance, and faithfully turn our hearts back to God.
If we, Christians, return to our Lord Jesus Christ with all our hearts and serve Him only, He will deliver us from the gripping chokehold of the strong man. Only then, would God heal our land and give us protection from the debilitating effects of asphyxiation.
Only then, would our souls breathe freely the air that gives us life.
Let us pray.
We have sinned.
We have followed gods of this world.
We have exalted the profane, elevated the proud, praised the indecent.
We are so weak in our misery.
We can no longer breathe.
Hear our cries and do not be far from us.
Save us from the strongholds.
Save us from our wretched selves,
For You are merciful.
You are full of grace.
Your are love.
Save your people and heal this land.
Lift your countenance upon us, Oh God.
May we breathe the air we are meant to breathe.
May we breathe life that we received from you.
May our breath confess that you are our God, Our Lord and Savior, and that we are your people.
In the mighty name of Jesus we pray.